Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What? No Manok? Disappointing Visit at Tatoy's Manokan (Iloilo City)



Let me start by saying, I'm gonna be writing about a horrible experience I had during my visit at Tatoy's Manokan. I know a lot of people are raving about their native chicken but I'm gonna rant about it now. It has almost been a month since this happened but I can still feel pissed whenever I will try to recall it. I don't even want to write about this but somehow, maybe this would help improve their service. 

My companion and I were expecting to have a hearty and delicious lunch at Tatoy's. This place have built quite a reputation in the media saying that this is the best restaurant to visit in Iloilo. The place boasts of their native chicken (ayan, naasar na naman ako upon stating that) which is also their best seller. 

It's almost lunch time when we arrived and the place is packed! I was quite expecting that since it was a Sunday when we visited, so a lot of people are dining out. 





We started out by ordering from what I can call a "live menu". Cooked dishes in serving portions were displayed at the counters near the entrance. One can select from their fresh sea foods and have it cooked any way you want. Of course we know what to order so we immediately told the wait staff. We ordered Baked Oysters, Chopsuey, their famous Native Chicken. rice, and Buco Shake.  He then assisted us towards a vacant table and asked us to wait. Well, when he asked us to wait, he never really told us to wait for AN HOUR. Yes! We waited for an hour for the first dish to be served. Not the entire order, but the first dish! Unbelievable! And that was just the start of it. 

(Now, I will be posting food photos according to the sequence of arrival on our table.)

It was humid that day and being hungover from last night's partying, I was parched. I politely pointed out to the waiter to have the drinks served first while we wait for the food to arrive. We waited patiently but it took them almost an hour to serve our drinks. 


Buco Shake

The Buco Shake was refreshing and really really good, or maybe I was just really thirsty that time. Anyway, we were expecting the orders would come since one of our orders are already on our table. To our dismay, the next one came in after 15 minutes, so far we have been waiting for almost an hour and a half only to be served one dish that wasn't even the appetizer!


Chopsuey

We were expecting they would serve us the Baked Oysters since it was supposedly the appetizer of our meal. We were surprised to see the Chopsuey on our table but gladly just took it since we were starving like mad. My companion and I were both pissed at that moment but I said, we should remain calm since I heard that everything they serve is good, and hey, it was good news, right? Optimistically, I said that all our orders will arrive in no time. 

We were trying to enjoy the Chopsuey, which by the way tastes forgettable when the server approached our table and brought us... BAD NEWS. 

"Mam, naubusan kame ng manok. Kung gusto nyo, maghintay kayo ng isa pang oras kasi niluluto pa lang yung mga bagong dating. Baka gusto nyo na lang mag order ng iba kapalit nung manok, kung di kayo makakapag hintay" (Mam, we ran out of chicken. If you want, you can wait for an hour more since we are still cooking up this new batch, or you might just want to order something else if you can't wait.)

SERIOUSLY? After waiting for more than an hour, you are going to tell us that you fooking ran out of chicken, furthermore, wait another hour for that friggin chicken? Really?! REALLY?!!! 

Well, we just opted to order the next best thing in their menu which is the Lechon. I was sure that time that the Lechon won't really impress me since I strongly think that Borongan Lechon is the best Lechon for me. 


Lechon

At that point, when everything for me tasted bland because bouts of disappointments came flooding in, the Baked Oysters still haven't made it to our table. And when it did...


Baked Oysters

I feel bad for the oysters. I think they got robbed of their natural flavors by cooking it the wrong way. There was nothing extraordinary about the dish. Oh wait, there is something exceptional about it, the way it tasted like a chowder. A chowder because it does swim in evaporated milk. The most horrible Baked Oyster I've ever had in my life. 

By the end of our meal, the chicken that was ordered by a family sitting next to us finally came. That is after they have finished their meal. I'm guessing they've been waiting for the chicken for more than an hour since I have noticed that they have been eating ahead of us before we even sat down. I'm assuming they're regulars since they were able to accept the inefficient service. 

The visit left a bad taste in my mouth. I would want to go back again just to taste the chicken that they are famous for, hoping that it'll be their saving grace for me. If the chicken is nothing out of the ordinary, then Tatoy's really suck. Service is awful and food is mediocre.

Tatoy's Manokan

Baluarte-Calumpang-Villa-Oton Boulevard,
Villa Arevalo District,
Iloilo City, Iloilo
Contact Number:  (033) 337 1360
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tatoys-Manokan-and-Seafoods/187716994613317


Also read my other blog posts about my Incredible Iloilo visit:

Breakthrough Restaurant
Bourbon Street 
Punot Flavors of Iloilo
Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy
Maridel's 
Circle Inn Iloilo

Monday, December 29, 2014

Maridel's (Iloilo City)



Make room for desserts! After spending our last day in Iloilo food tripping, we decided to cap off our dining experience with sweet cakes at Maridel's found in Plazuela de Iloilo. It has been said by a lot of locals and reviews that Maridel's serves the best tasting cakes in town and so we never hesitated to try it out. 


Taken from Maridel's Facebook Page
Taken from Maridel's Facebook Page

The place is tiny. It can probably just house around 10 people inside. There were available tables outside though but I would still wish they would expand the cafe since the place get's crowded specially on weekends. 

There were a lot of cakes to select from. Choosing which one to order was perhaps the most difficult thing we did that time since everything looked very very good. My friend and I decided to order a sugarless chocolate cake (which I forgot the name) and a Banoffee Pie. 


Oh so good cakes! 

Both were great! The cakes were deliciously made and it went perfectly well with both coffee and tea which we ordered together with these. The cakes prices ranges from Php 90 and up. They only serve brewed coffee and teas. I wish they would also offer other coffee variants like Latte, Cappuccino or Americano, that goes well with cakes in my opinion. 

We most definitely had the great ending not just to our meals but in our stay in Iloilo generally. :) 

Want to have good desserts when Iloilo? Try Maridel's.

Maridel's 

Plazuella de Iloilo
Iloilo City
Contact Number:  508-2253
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Maridels.Iloilo


Also read my other blog posts about my Incredible Iloilo visit:

Breakthrough Restaurant
Bourbon Street 
Punot Flavors of Iloilo
Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy
Tatoy's Manokan
Circle Inn Iloilo

Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy (Iloilo City)



Who would leave Iloilo City without eating their famous La Paz Batchoy? Only fools would do so. Who can resist a warm hearty soup full of tasty pork trimmings, fresh noodles, crunchy chicharon bits, and piping hot, flavorful stock? No one can! 

There has been a long standing debate about who serves the best La Paz Batchoy in Iloilo. I'm sure most of you have heard about Deco's or Ted's Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy, but I have also been hearing a lot about Netong's famous La Paz Batchoy which has a stall in La Paz Public Market. I thought that it must be the best place to taste the best La Paz Batchoy and so, after a long night of drinking, my friend and I decided to pay Netong's a visit. 

We arrived around 2 in the afternoon and the place is almost empty. We were surprised to know that their dining area is air conditioned. We were ready to brave the heat but we were thankful we don't need to since it was actually a humid day in Iloilo City that time. 

Netong's dining area with tatay eating his hot bowl of La Paz Batchoy. I'm guessing we were really at the right place since this man, I'm sure is a loyal customer. Only goes to show we are tasting the best La Paz Batchoy in town! 

Netong's Menu

We decided to order their Megabowl Batchoy and Puto.

Puto (Php 14)

Netong's La Paz Batchoy (Megabowl - Php 100)

Writing about this makes me drool. I can still taste the delicious soup. I mean look at that, man! Pork fat surfacing the soup, pork and liver trimmings that are so flavorful, and the soup, oh dear, the soup! It makes me want to book a flight to Iloilo and have this again! 

I guess it's unfair to say that this is the best tasting La Paz Batchoy in Iloilo since I was not able to sample other restaurant's version. But I'd say that I don't really have to do that since I have tasted one of the best dishes I've ever had in my life. 

Skip this not when in Iloilo. This is the perfect breakfast, or lunch, or merienda, or dinner. Heck, best anytime of the day I may say! 

Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy

La Paz Public Market
Iloilo City
Contact Number: (033) 396 2189
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/netongsbatchoy


Also read my other blog posts about my Incredible Iloilo visit:

Breakthrough Restaurant
Bourbon Street 
Punot Flavors of Iloilo
Maridel's 
Tatoy's Manokan
Circle Inn Iloilo

Punot, Flavors Of Modern Iloilo (Iloilo City)



After a long and fun day in Guimaras, we went back to Iloilo with happy hearts but empty stomachs. I told my companion that I have been hearing a lot about this place in The Esplanade called Punot that serves delicious Ilonggo cuisine. I have long wished to taste Iloilo's famous Kansi, a soup dish that is similar to Bulalo and Sinigang. I thought that it would be a perfect ending to our activity filled day. 

My friend Gladys called up for reservations, which is recommended specially on weekends. The lady who answered the call gladly accepted our requests and was very accommodating. She even gave us directions when we got lost on our way there. 

We arrived at around 8:00 in the evening and the place was full of dining customers, mostly big groups. We requested to be seated in their al fresco dining area facing the river. The place is cozy, with warm lights. The native interiors gave that traditional Filipino home atmosphere which I loved. The service is excellent too. The wait staff who assisted us was very attentive. Even eavesdropping at times but its all good since he was able to point us to where we were headed after dinner. 

Here's what we've ordered. 

Baked Scallops (Php 200)

We started off with their Baked Scallops as our appetizer. We can tell that the scallops were fresh since it is very succulent. I didn't like the sauce that came with it though. I'm not saying it is not good but I would have had appreciated it more if it was served like the usual baked scallops that I like, which has the basic cheese and breadcrumbs. Nevertheless, it was able to whet our appetites for the main dishes of the evening. 

Corned Beef Kansi (Php 280)

We ordered the famous Corned Beef Kansi which is a soup dish similar to Bulalo and Sinigang. It was delectable! The soup is very refreshing to the palate, with just a tinge of sourness. The meat is ultra tender. Even those without teeth can enjoy the dish. One of the best soups I have ever tasted in my life. 

Seafood Ala Punot (Php 260)

This dish is a platter of different fresh sea foods. Everything was fresh and cooked perfectly.


Calamansi Cucumber Cooler (Glass - Php 80 / Pitcher - Php 180)

We also ordered this refreshing drink to wash down that great meal. Most restaurants in Iloilo and Guimaras does offer refreshing drink concoctions like this which is definitely must tries when dining in their restaurants. 

I have definitely enjoyed my time in Punot. Their dishes are absolutely delicious and most of all affordable. The service is excellent as well. I would certainly be back if I'm in Iloilo City! 

Punot Flavors of Modern Iloilo

Riverside Boardwalk 
Diversion Road, Iloilo City 
Contact Number:  3209893

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Raymen Beach Resort (Guimaras)



This is perhaps the most visited resort in Guimaras based on blog posts that I have consulted before our trip. I was trying to copy itineraries posted on the internet and almost all of it included the resort's name. So, the safest way to go is to book a room in Raymen via agoda.com (or so as I thought)

After wandering around Guimaras Island, courtesy of our ever reliable tour guide, Kuya Gil, we arrived in Raymen only to find out that our hotel reservation via Agoda.com has been cancelled! Now I don't blame Agoda since it was also my fault that I failed to check my emails prior our arrival. I just assumed everything is ok since we checked in at Circle Inn in Iloilo with no problems. Good thing there are available rooms by the time we got there and checked in a room with the same amount as the one we reserved via Agoda. 

My companion and I got a Standard Room with twin bed for Php 1300+ a night. Here's how the room looks like. 

Twin Bed

Toilet and Bath

The room is very small as well as the toilet and bath. There are no TV available. The bed is not as comfy but the A/C unit is quiet. I actually didn't mind the little discomfort since we know that so far we are having fun, and there will be more surprises to come. After we freshen up, we decided to have our late lunch in their restaurant before starting our island hopping tour. 

How can we skip these delightful Guimaras Mango Shake? (Php 90 each)

Ordered their "Combo Meal" platter that costs Php 135 each


As opposed to the original plan of taking the Island Hopping tour the following day, we pushed through it by 3 in the afternoon, taking the advice of Kuya Gil. We asked Raymen to assist us in booking a small boat to take us around and they happily helped us. My companion and I rented a boat for Php 700 for the first 3 hours. Succeeding hours cost us Php 200 per hour.


Island Hopping Tour Booth
Our bankeros preparing our own private banca!


The banca we used was quite spacious and can perhaps accommodate a maximum of 10 people. Rates are per hour basis so the bigger the group, the lesser the cost per head. 

Being a lazy tourist that I am, I never really got to remember where and which island we went first. I just remembered visiting a turtle sanctuary where we were able to see and touch a beautiful turtle, took photos in a nearby cave, drank ice cold and crisp Red Horse beer, listen to Ariana Grande's "Baby, I" (yes, I listen to Ariana Grande, bakit ba?! haha!) and taking a quick dip in the sea. The chronology is not important, in my opinion, all I can remember now is how magnificent, how serene, and how enchanting the tour is. And oh, we never had a problem with our tour guides. Mike, one of the boat guy is fantastic with tourist. He knows where to bring us, how to take photos of us, and how to make that island hopping tour a memorable one. 












Buy beers before you take off, bring speakers, and party while island hopping!

We ended the tour with the beautiful sunset in our horizon. Before cleaning up and before we get ready for dinner, my friend and I decided to take a dip in the beach while savoring the beautiful amber sunset skies. 

Dinner and drinks followed. We ordered fresh sea foods off their menu and enjoyed it. Forgot to take photos of it since I was too tired to do so. Capping off the night, we brought a bottle of Muscato wine that we bought from Iloilo and enjoyed it by the beach. 





We dozed off and I got up early in the morning to get my tan. Unfortunately, you won't get any sun at Raymen's beachfront until around 9 or 10 in the morning since the beach faces west (if I'm not mistaken). Having that circumstance, my friend and I decided to have our breakfast first. 


Longsilog (Php 95) and Coffee

The rest of the morning was spent lying around the beach, people watching and getting a tan. It was Saturday and the place begun to be packed by locals by around 10 in the morning. Apparently a lot of people spend their weekends by the beach. The weather was just oh so perfect that day. November I think is the best month to travel here in the Philippines. Not so humid, not really rainy. Just perfect.


That perfect November morning...

I was satisfied with Raymen's service. The staff are polite and the service is good. I just found the place a little cramped. I was hoping the resort would be breezy and spacious but every inch of the property has either a room or a cottage. I heard from our tour guide that there are 2 nearby resorts that could be an alternative. Raymen's advantage is that they are easy to contact since they are present in social networking sites and Agoda.com. 

Well, you might wanna consider Raymen on your visit to Guimaras. Go get the Island hopping tour that they offer. Oh, and we paid using our credit and debit cards so paying cashless is also an option. 

Raymen Beach Resort 

Address:  Alubihod, Poblacion, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Contact Number:  (033) 396 0252
Website:  http://raymenresort.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Raymen.Beach.Resort.Guimaras

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Pitstop Restaurant (Guimaras)

Photo taken from http://thepitstoprestaurant.com.ph/

Guimaras is well known not only here in the Philippines, but to the rest of the world for their delicious, juicy and sweet mangoes. If there is an abundance of a said fruit in a place, surely, there would be a lot of ingenuity brewing. The Pitstop Restaurant proved that taking advantage of something ample and famous, plus putting a twist is a definite hit. 

I was looking for a place to eat in Guimaras when I stumbled upon the infamous Mango Pizza. Knowing that Guimaras is famous for the fruit, I was sure that it is something that I should not miss eating when I visit there. 

We spent our second day touring aroung Guimaras Island. On our way to Jordan Wharf, back to Iloilo, my friend and I decided to have lunch at The Pitstop Restaurant. We also invited our reliable tour guide / tricycle driver, Kuya Gil, to join us. 




We arrived at lunch time and place is packed with customers both local and foreign. I looked around and everyone have pizzas on their tables. I was sure that it is The Pitstop's specialty but we really came there for their Mango Pizza. We also saw a huge ad outside the restaurant stating they have the best ribs in town and so we decided to also give it a try. My friend Gladys wanted to see if their ribs is better than Bourbon Street's which we tried a couple of nights back. 

Here's what we've ordered.

Mango Pizza - Double (Php 219)

I was expecting nothing grand about the Mango Pizza. I was anticipating something sweet, almost a dessert type of pie but I was blown away the moment I took my first bite! The entire pie is layered with sweet Guimaras mangoes. I can really taste it with every single bite. I was also surprised that the tangy tomato base, the salty cheese, the crunch from the cashew nuts on top and the distinctive bell pepper taste would work for this dish. It was totally different from what I have been expecting. I dislike surprises but this one is totally mind blowing, and I loved it! :) 


Adobo Twist - Single (Php 79)

We can't get enough of their mango inspired menu offerings so we tried their take on the classic Filipino Adobo. We loved it as much as we love the Mango Pizza! The sauce is thick, just the way I like my Adobo. The mango flavor is very visible with the dish and blended perfectly with the salty soy sauce. This is fantastic with hot steaming rice. 


Back Ribs - Family (Php 329)

The ribs were okay. Not fall off the bone but okay. There's nothing special about the sauce. The only thing I can say about this dish is that it is "sulit" for the price. 


Chopsuey (Php 149)

I can't stand a meal without veggies and so we have decided to order this. Their Chopsuey is delish! I love the fact that it has a thick sauce and the ingredients are fresh. 


Guimaras Chorva Drink (forgot the exact name) (Php 149)

A refreshing drink was what we needed to wash down that delicious meal and seeing a refreshing -sounding drink in their menu enticed us. We ordered this drink which one of the wait staff also recommended. It is indeed refreshing with citrus and cucumber flavor. Perfect for a hot day like that. 

The service is relaxed. However we were quite disappointed that the drinks came in our table last. It could have been perfect if everything was brought to the table all the same time. I would definitely recommend anything in their mango inspired menu, though I have only tried two. Their Mango Pizza is superb and is definitely a must try. 

Skip this not when in Guimaras! 

The Pitstop Restaurant

Old Site, San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras
Jordan, Iloilo,
Philippines
Website:  http://thepitstoprestaurant.com.ph/
Contact Number:  033-581-2310

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Circle Inn (Iloilo City)

Image taken from http://www.circleinn-iloilo.com/

There are many hotel choices in Iloilo City but some of my friends recommended Circle Inn. I did a little research about the hotel and booked a room via Agoda.com. We stayed in Circle Inn for 2 nights.

Smokers, beware. This is a non smoking hotel. Well, Iloilo in general is a non smoking city and is very strict about it. I bet you won't be able to find a smoking hotel in this city.  The hotel doesn't have a smoking are, none at all. They have no smoking rooms, no common smoking area. 

Circle Inn is located one block away from Ortiz Wharf so it is an ideal hotel of choice if you're planning to go from Iloilo to Guimaras.

We arrived in Iloilo mid morning and got to the hotel at around 11:30 am. My companion and I were able to make an early check in since the room we are going to occupy is ready for us. We booked a Standard Twin Room for Php 1200 a night.

The hotel lobby

Hotel cafe / restaurant

Here's how our room looks like.

Standard Twin Room

The only two power outlets available inside the room. Ugh. 

Bathroom

Shower

Complimentary shampoo and soap

The room is pretty basic. Their bed is comfortable but we were only provided with a pillow each. Air conditioning takes a little time to cool. Few power outlets are available. Toilet has no bidet. The water heater in the first room that we occupied didn't work really well since we weren't able to adjust the temperature that easily. No hair dryer is available for the standard room but you can pay Php 50 per day to rent for it.  Quite a hassle but, yeah, it's ok for the price. :)

One reason why I booked the hotel is because of their pool, which we never really been able to use since our itinerary is packed. It looked big in the photos but I was surprised to see that it's not as big. Their pool is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm only. Its nice to hang out by the pool at night. My friend and I grabbed a bottle of beer during our last night before we head out for dinner.

The hotel pool

The staff is accommodating though some wouldn't really go an extra mile for you like make restaurant reservations and help you with directions. I don't know but maybe I was just very lucky to have stayed in a lot of hotels around the Philippines and even around Asia and extended some pretty good customer service.

Will I recommend Circle Inn for travelers visiting Iloilo? Well, It's an okay hotel, but there's really nothing special about the service and the hotel facilities.

Circle Inn Iloilo

Iznart St, Iloilo City Proper,
Iloilo City, 5000 Iloilo
Website: http://www.circleinn-iloilo.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CircleInnHotelSuitesIloilo
Contact number: (033) 508 0000


Also read my other blog posts about my Incredible Iloilo visit:

Breakthrough Restaurant
Bourbon Street 
Punot Flavors of Iloilo
Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy
Maridel's 
Tatoy's Manokan